Focus on Education

The new legislative session has begun, and I’m honored to represent you on both the Education and Appropriations committees.  The good news is that the passage of Prop 208 will  provide a  long and much-needed sustainable increase in our investment in students.The bad news is that it will take about a year before schools see that additional funding (and there will still be many holes).

In the meantime, because of COVID, school attendance has dropped significantly. Since districts receive funding based on daily attendance, they are losing millions of dollars, which threatens their ability to renew contracts for hundreds of teachers this spring. The last thing we need is more unemployed people, especially teachers who are already in such short supply.

Bills I’m Drafting

Stability Funding: School Superintendents have told me that their number one priority is to know their funding for next school year is secure. So I’m working on a bill that will allow districts to use their attendance numbers from any of the past three years, giving them the security they need during this uncertain time to retain those teachers who are so vital to addressing the Covid-related learning loss.

Special Education: Arizona has also long neglected the needs of special education students. I’m working on a bill that will more appropriately fund those programs.

Adult Education: Arizona has over 100,000 adults without a high school diploma, and the pandemic will likely increase that number. For our state’s economy to thrive,  Achieve 60 Arizona, a non-partisan group of business leaders and educators, projects that Arizona needs  60% of its residents to have  a two year post-secondary credential by 2030. So, I’m proposing a bill that will allow more adults to complete their GED’s AND at the same time, earn an industry certification or AA degree through our community colleges. It’s a smart investment that will benefit all of us.

What You Can Do Right Now

This Tuesday’s (Jan 19) Education Committee agenda includes important opportunities to improve the lives of students and families in Arizona. If you have a Request to Speak account, please use it Now to urge a YES vote on the following bills in particular. If not, email members of the committee. You can find our names here and email addresses use this pattern of first initial, last name as in Jschwiebert@azleg.gov.  We meet at 2 pm on Tuesday, and you can watch the live proceedings here.

HB 2015, Rep Sierra’s bill would restore funding for quality preschool education for low income families. It’s a wise investment in not only our children, but for our economic future as well.

HB2137, Rep Pawlik’s bill on dyslexia screening. It was one of the recommendations of a study committee to identify and help address the needs of students showing signs of dyslexia.

HCR 2005 Rep Fillmore’s bill to repeal Arizona’s English Only requirement for English Language Learners will allow districts to use research-based instruction models that work best for their students.

HB2124 Rep Udall’s CTED Anytime Anywhere bill that allows career education districts to receive funding for learning in their programs not just during traditional school hours, but also, whenever instruction works within their communities.

HB2123 Rep Udall’s bill to provide 4th year funding to students in CTED programs will allow students to complete their work.